A Garment Not A Chain

Dear Christian Girls,

This is a letter I’ve been meaning to write for a while. There are a lot of letters out there regarding the issue I’m going to talk about, but I personally disagree with most of them. I think it’s time for something fresh and new. I believe it is time I told you all the truth about clothing, your body, and modesty.

First of all, God made you in His image. That’s probably not something you hear all the time. Maybe it is. I don’t really know. I do know that it is true and that you need to hear it. Plus, knowing that even we as females are made in God’s image helps unravel the truths of His desires for us. You were made in God’s image, and are loved by the Father. Chains do not become you.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:27

Secondly, you’re absolutely beautiful. Your face, eyes, hair, smile… they reflect God’s glory and make you radiant. But I’m going to tell you something that you probably won’t hear very often, at least not from a Christian. Your whole being is beautiful. God made you that way. He made you different from men, with shapliness and curves, so that they would desire you. And there is nothing wrong with that. He thinks you are beautiful, no matter what anyone else says. You do not need to hide behind a chain, beautiful girl.  

Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.’

Genesis 2: 22-23

Next, I want to remind you that you’re sinful. But of course you knew that because Christians have been blaming you for your own sins and the sins of others since the fall of man. I’m not here to tell you that though. Instead, I want you to know the truth. Even though you have sinned, you are no longer condemned. Although you were born sinful and deserve to be chained, beaten, and killed, Jesus has paid the price. He took your sin on his shoulders and bore your suffering. You are freed. There is no reason to live in the bondage of chains.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2

And now, I want to tell you something truly earth-shattering. Or at least it was to me when I first realized it. Because of these three things, all of those modesty lectures and articles that tell you to cover up if you’re a Christian, that you’re a stumbling block to your brothers in Christ, and that any girl who wears a bikini to the beach doesn’t love God enough are not true. They are lies and you should not believe them. Modesty should not ensnare you like a chain.

Don’t get me wrong–I don’t think you should run around naked either. I know that after sin came into the world, nakedness brought shame. I know that there are certain parts that God wants to be covered. And I know that God talks about modesty in the Bible, too. But it still shouldn’t be a chain.  

He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’

Genesis 3:10 

What we wear does say a lot about who we are and modesty is important, in my opinion. However, I happen to know that these things are not as important as some people tell us. Did you know that dressing modestly is not one of the ten commandments? Did you know that modesty is barely ever spoken of in the Bible? Did you know that God cares more about your heart than the length of your skirt or the thickness of your shirt? The clothes that you wear are garments and not chains.

But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7 

You see, once I was you, beautiful girl. I felt sinful for what I had worn. I was ridden with guilt and cursed the way my clothes seemed to stick to me. I was ashamed of the body and gender that God had given me. My ‘modest’ clothing was a chain around me and I could not run free. And then I heard the good news that my chains had been broken by the greatest strength. My sins were forgiven and I was free. And that forgiveness is open to you, too.

Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’

Luke 7:50

I know that probably sounds blasphemous to you, but I hope this letter will help in some way. Christianity is not defined by the clothes that you wear–Jesus defines it all.Your beauty should not be enmeshed in shame–there is no reason for that. Jesus has paid the price for your sins–you are not condemned. And God looks at your heart not the clothes you choose, whether ‘modest’ or ‘immodest.’ He does not chain you in guilt, shame, or worries about necklines–and neither should you.

Love,

Your sister in Christ, Elizabeth

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24 thoughts on “A Garment Not A Chain

  1. AWESOME post, Liz, and I don’t know who in their right mind would dare call this blasphemy.

    People seem to forget that women were created in God’s likeness, too. We are not some after thought. Let’s not forget that God chose a WOMAN to carry Jesus, who He knew would face many challenges because of her gender. But the most basic levels of compassion and mercy, in my opinion, are maternal. That’s not to say anything against men, but we should not be imprisoned by what we wear and yet men get away with anything. God made us specifically beautiful, and there’s no denying that.

    One of my all time favorites of yours. Bravo. I hope that this gets linked to over and over again and that tons of Christian women get to read this.

    • Thank you so much, Kate. 🙂

      I LOVE what you said about women and about Jesus’ mother. God really did choose many women for important tasks. We shouldn’t forget that.

      Aw, thanks! I’ve had this idea for a while, but it’s taken a lot to get it out. So that means a lot to me. 🙂

  2. I love this post! 🙂 I’m glad you’re writing on this subject. It’s controversial but it really needs to be said. Keep up the great work!

  3. No this is not blasphemy! It’s important to think things over!

    It is so true that we are made it God’s image and that we can love the way we are. God was the one who made us this way, who created sexuality and the desires that follow, and it was perfect.

    And while our clothing should not be a chain or a burden on us, we live in a fallen world and still live with the effects of sin, even though we ourselves are made pure by Christ. And so each of us strives to live faithful lives for our Saviour out of thankfulness – and so we fight sin and we resist temptation and we praise God, and we practice kindness and humility, REFLECTING CHRIST.

    And God has given each of us to each other as a communion to help each other and assist each other to walk those holy lives of thankfulness.
    And so, dear fellow christian, i ask you to consider the following in your thoughts on modesty:

    “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7, while it explain what God looks at, it also tells us that humans do look at outward appearance. Knowing this, we should dress outwardly to reflect our heart to others. Anything different would make us a hypocrite.

    “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.” Proverbs 11:22 rebukes the woman with out discretion, who refuses to make the choice to help her brothers in Christ. if we truly seeking to reflect Christ our Head, and live for His glory, we should do away with the indiscretion in our clothes, our speech and our actions.

    “Let us not judge one another anymore but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.” Romans 14:13 speaks of not being that stumbling block. Women have been blessed with beauty and attractiveness, yet because this world is still under sins influence, what God created good, sin has destroyed its perfect nature, and so sexual desires fail to remain holy. Although each person is responsible for their own thoughts, disregarding this struggle and abandoning modesty is like joining forces with Satan in the constant battle our brother’s face. Although it may be easy to scorn at this fight, it is good to realize that each sister has equal but different weaknesses to contend with. Why be a stumbling block? This shouldn’t be about how its not fair the guys get away with it – truly ask one of them! It is a minute by minute constant STRUGGLE.

    Another interesting point is that in scripture, nakedness represents sin. In Eden, Adam and Eve were shamelessly naked. With sin, their nakedness brought shame. God clothed them to cover up their physical shame. He then sent His Son, who was made naked and paid for that sin. Christ was made naked on the cross so that we can be clothed and with out shame before God! Rejecting modesty is also scorning the sacrifice Christ has made and embracing the shame and sin Christ saved us from!

    And no, christianity is not defined by your modesty, and no you should not be ashamed by your body, and yes, God does look at your heart. But what sort of heart only exists on the inside and doesn’t shine out to the rest of the body? That would be like a candle with no light. If our heart desires Jesus and His desires, our heart will also desire humility and discretion, and in turn, our bodies will be clothed modestly. Even if that does mean worrying about our neck line. One little labour in love like that if anything is imitating that same sacrificial love of Jesus for us!

    from another sister in Christ ♥
    http://kispirazone.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/daughters-of-king.html

    • Thank you for your thoughts, Kailee.

      You mentioned a verse I also used in my post: “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 Although it does not particularly pertain to modesty, I felt that it was fine to use somewhat “out of context” since it is true in regards to modesty that God looks beyond the clothes that we are wearing. I think that a good question to ask ourselves with this verse is… “Who do we want to please? God or man?” If we dress modestly on the outside, our fellow, likeminded Christians may notice us and approve. But why should our efforts be to please them? God knows what we wear, yes, but I believe that He cares more about the time with spend with Him, the way we treat others, and the thoughts we think rather than what we put on our bodies. No, we should not be a hypocrite, but I think it is more hypocritical to call yourself a Christian and try to please man.

      Your second verse is one that I have heard before as well… “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a lady who lacks discretion.” Proverbs 11:22 Personally, I do think it is good to have discretion and dress with propriety as a young woman. Modesty in speech and actions is also important. However, I went back and read that whole Proverb. It talks about wisdom on different levels and for different people (i.e. Be sure of this: The Wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free. Proverbs 11:21). Therefore, how can we be certain that King Solomon is talking about a woman’s dress? It could easily be her attitude instead. Or it could be both. I think we have to be very careful when looking at modesty in the Bible. God talks a LOT more about a modest heart than of covering up from head to toe. Plus, this is not a ‘command’ to woman. King Solomon was a fallen man, encouraging his son to be righteous and wise. Of course, that doesn’t mean we should just disregard everything that is not a command, but we have to realize such passages for what they are. A woman shouldn’t be out just because her skirt is an inch is too short and therefore she lacks discretion.

      Your last verse was Romans 14:13… “Therefore let us stop passing judgement on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” I’d like to point out that he wasn’t talking about woman’s apparel. Earlier in the passage Paul speaks of eating habbits and special days which was probably involved in some kind of dispute in the church at that time. I’m not saying that we cannot use this verse in regards to modesty, but we should be careful. We need to realize that Paul is not speaking of a beautiful woman as a stumbling block to a man, but rather different convictions. Secondly, each person is responsible for their own sin. I’m not saying that no one else contributes. There are always things that we can do to help someone onto the better road. However, we cannot save a person from falling into temptation. Everyone will be tempted and everyone will sin. Even if a man is surrounded by modestly dressed women who wear long skirts and shirts up to their neck, if the male mind is as “wild” as I have heard it is, he will still be able to lust. Plus, men are FULLY capable of looking away if there is just “too much skin.” Aren’t men supposed to be strong leaders? Doesn’t a strong leader know how to turn away? Ultimately, whether the women is “modest” or “immodest” it is the man’s choice to lust or not. Temptation will win, I’m sure, because the human mind is sinful. However, that doesn’t mean that we need to blame women for man’s own sin. In regards to modesty, women are only responsible for their own sins (i.e. trying to flaunt their bodies), but they are not responsible for the man who lusts after them.

      I also have three verses I’d like to share with you:

      Luke 7:36 – 50 tells the story of a sinful woman who anoints Jesus with perfume and weeping. Although the Bible does not specify her “sin,” it is quite likely that she was a prostitute. Considering that they could tell she was “sinful,” she probably wasn’t dressed that “modestly” either. But Jesus doesn’t say anything about that. He DEFENDS her while his friends look on and scorn her. Simon (the man who owns the house they are at) says that Jesus is not a prophet because “he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is–that she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:39) Obviously these men are looking on the outside and disregarding the inside. However, Jesus tells them: “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on mmy feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sisn have been forgiven–for she loved much.” (Luke 7:45-47) Jesus openly forgives her for her sins because he knows that she loves Him. He looks at her heart and not the skimpy clothes she is wearing. I’m not saying that this woman wasn’t a sinner or that it’s fine to choose a life of sexual immorality, but I want to point out that Jesus looks past all that. He has to if he is going to be our friend because the truth is that we all mess up at one time or another while He is perfect. Finally, he says to her “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” He didn’t say your modesty or purity has saved you, but rather, your FAITH. I think that a lot of Christians (myself included) get so wrapped up in the outward appearance that we forget that it is what is on the heart that truly defines Christianity.

      1 Timothy 2:9 says “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” This verse brings back the reaccuring theme that God looks at the heart rather than the outward appearance. Yes, Paul wants the women to “dress modestly” and lists some outward ways in which they can do that. However, he asks them to replace what they are taking off with character traits of a Godly spirit. This verse shows that God considers a modest or Godly woman by her attitude and actions and not simply by the length of her skirt or the fit of her shirt.

      Galations 6 speaks of “carrying each other’s burdens and fulfilling the law of Christ in this way.” I think that could definitely apply to modesty. Despite what I’ve said in this post, I do aim to dress decently. I have standards for my dress and many reasons for them. One of my reasons is because I want to respect guys. So in a way, I am “carrying their burdens.” However, it doesn’t say that we are to be RESPONSIBLE for their burdens. No matter how hard I try, I probably dress immodestly to some people. I’ve probably been a “temptation” because modesty is subjective. Galations 6:4-5 says, “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.” Therefore, I am not responsible for the sins of lust a man may have. They are his OWN to confess and repent of.

      Okay, I think that’s it. I hope I was clear and that you are not offended by my refute. You are obviously welcome to have your own beliefs on this and I am not trying to convert you to mine in anyway. I believe that this is a “gray area” for Christians (because there are no specific rules on modesty in the Bible yet we know it is important) so it’s not a life or death matter. 🙂 Feel free to discuss anything further if you want. I’m actually really glad that you posted your thoughts and that they were different from mine because I really enjoy these kind of discussions.

      Thanks for sharing, Kailee. God bless you!

      Elizabeth

  4. Very good! Refreshing and different and it made me think too! The Christian life is supposed to be about freedom, peace, confidence and acceptance and yet too often Christians (like me) don’t do a good job of representing that. But this post does do a good job representing that! It’s especially true for those that are married that we should desire to please our husbands with what we wear, since God made us for our husbands.

    • Thank you, Brittany.

      Yes, we all fail (myself included!) at representing the Christian life to others. I know I’ve definitely judged and said things when I shouldn’t have said them at all. Christian love is something I’m learning better everyday.

  5. Dear Elizabeth, (Normally I don’t start comments like that… but for some reason I am today.) First, I was to thank you so much for stopping by my blog and leaving your precious comments! I’m glad you found the post on Navigating the Gray helpful and encouraging! =D It’s always an encouragement to me when others can “take something away” from my blog. Second, I’ve enjoyed getting to come onto your blog and get a glimpse into your world. You’ve got some awesome posts on here (and I look forward to reading more)! Third, there’s nothing blasphemous about this post what so ever =) You’ve presented truth in humility! And I’m sure God is using you and your testimony to speak to other girls as well. I wasn’t homeschooled or have a background in the patriarchal “movement” (if that’s what it’s called… see? My lack of knowledge on this stuff is proof (lol)), but I can tell that God is stirring up in you to rest in the gospel message of grace, not legalism. Reading your previous post on a forest of lies made my heart ache for you, but I’m glad you see it for what it is: lies! And I just want you to know that you are beautiful, smart, and likable because of the surpassing work of Christ’s death on the cross and because you’re made in the image and likeness of God =) The King delights in you and loves you with passionately and unconditionally! (And if God has placed in you a dream to pursue higher education and a career, that doesn’t make you worthless by any means.) As you said, leave that forest of lies, and remain in the garden of grace. =) Grace and Peace! -Natalie

    • Thank you so much, Natalie! 🙂

      I’ve been enjoying your blog for a while now, but I never commented until today. I often take away something whether it be a smile or something to ponder. Your blogs is one of my favourites ever. 🙂 So it’s great to finally “meet” you.

      Thank you for your lovely comments. It really, really means a lot to me when people read back to previous posts and make encouraging comments about what I am going through. You just brightened my day! 🙂

      Blessings,
      Elizabeth

  6. Hello Elizabeth!
    Just one thing, you said on your reply to kailee Swarts that, “In regards to modesty, women are only responsible for their own sins (i.e. trying to flaunt their bodies), but they are not responsible for the man who lusts after them.” The first part is definitely true, but our family personally believes that the woman who causes the man to lust is also in sin, because, “Jesus said to His disciples: ‘Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.'” Luke 17:1-3. With saying, lusting is a sin and you cause that person to lust. Having older brothers myself, they are not so ‘wild’ as one would think they are, speaking about Christian brothers, they guard themselves very well. But if they see a woman (could only be a flash of one) with cleavage, lots of leg, and tight tops and bottoms, it often causes them to think wrong thoughts, even in just that one second. When they do see a girl with a skirt (or even loose pants, I wear loose jeans myself sometimes) and a looser top, they often respect that girl and do not what so ever lust after her, as compared to this world, there is nothing there to lust about (I don’t think that’s proper English, but you know what I mean).
    Anyways, just thought I point that out, I know how guys think pretty well being so close to my older brothers and that’s usually always how they think. I wouldn’t know about other men, but that’s how my brothers view girls.
    What is on our out side often reflects our inside too, but I do know of a case where a girl (my cousin) is very much trying to serve God, and her clothes are not very modest at all, but often times, that comes after the girl has learned a bit more from God. That’s what happened to my mother, she didn’t really actually be ‘modest’ until after us kids where born, though through it all, she was growing and maturing in Christ.
    Anyways, keep growing as we all are! 🙂
    Can’t wait to see you for the grad!
    Sarah Elizabeth

    • Hi Sarah!

      It’s great to hear from you! Thank you for your comment! 🙂

      Well, I have to say that I personally disagree with your view on modesty. Although I personally try to dress modestly and believe that it is wrong to flaunt or ‘encourage’ a man to lust, I still don’t think that it is my fault if they do sin. Both men and women need to take ownership for their own sins. Playing the “blame game” isn’t helpful or right, in my opinion.

      I read the verses that you mentioned in Luke and I definitely see what you mean about how we influence others in their actions. However, the passage still does not say that person is responsible for the sin of his brother or sister. It says “woe to the person through whom they come” and that “it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin,” but that is not the same as “a woman is responsible for her brother’s sin when he lusts after her.” Is it a sin to be beautiful? Is it a sin to look nice? God created women to be beautiful and attractive to men. No, that doesn’t mean that men have free rights to any random woman’s body, but saying that a woman is responsible for a man’s lust issue is like saying that it is a sin to be attractive.

      I looked up sin in my Bible and I found many instances where God is very clear that our sins are each person’s own responsibility. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” Therefore, we don’t receive judgment for the tight shirt that “made” that guy over there lust after us. Jeremiah 31:30 says: “Instead, everyone will die for his own sin; whoever eats sour grapes–his own teeth will be set on edge.” I believe this verse is even clearer. Basically, you don’t die for something that you didn’t do. Those are just two examples, but there are others. I think the Bible is very clear on sin and the responsibility that we have to our own sins.

      I’ve never had brothers so I don’t know guys as well as you do. However, I have talked to quite a few Christian guys about this whole thing. Many have admitted the struggle with lust, but have also taken responsibility for their own sins. Personally, I think that if a guy is constantly lusting after girls then that is his own issue and not mine. Sure, I can try to help him by not wearing super revealing clothing, but modesty is really subjective. In fact, I would probably seem immodest to you and your brothers even though I’m not trying to be. The only way to truly end the battle would be for women to put bags over their heads and sacks on their bodies… or if men would actually become accountable for their own sins. It’s a two sided issue. A woman can’t just cover up from head to toe and solve the problem because that isn’t the whole problem. Men have to take responsibility for their part, too. If we both worked together, I think that modesty would be a lot less of an issue.

      Anyway, those are just my (further) thoughts on the subject. I hope you aren’t offended by anything I said. I try to disagree with respect and “agree to disagree” with my friends when we don’t have the same view so I hope I have done this well. In no way am I trying to convince you of what I believe. I’m not perfect either and neither are my beliefs, understandings, or convictions. I’m definitely not God and I don’t write
      the Bible here. 🙂 I’m still learning and growing, too! You are certainly entitled to your own opinion on this and you are welcome to discuss/debate this further if you
      wish.

      Yes, I’m looking forward to seeing you, too! Just a couple more weeks now! 🙂

      Elizabeth

  7. Hello Elizabeth!
    I think the passage in Luke still applies to this situation. I believe when Jesus says ‘little ones’ He means children of God, guys and men are children of God, and if WE are wearing something (or not wearing) that causes them to lust, then WE are to blame because what we wore CAUSED them to sin–through us, sin came. I think a girl is responsible to protect her brother in Christ. I would rather be on the safe side of the spectrum than perhaps be in sin, so I always try to dress a little more modest than not. Modesty also doesn’t have to be a chain to us, we should be proud (in a good way) to be modest. What is it that is hard for you to be modest? Why would it be a chain? I believe God commands us to dress modestly, so I do. People also have different views on what modesty is, but as long as you feel that is where God wants you to be in clothing, that’s fine.
    Also, a man who thinks ‘Hey, that’s a pretty girl.” isn’t necessarily lusting, they are merely commenting the girl is pretty.
    Another thought is the Bible says we are to be different from the world, people are to look at us and see something different and one way we can do that is by dressing modestly. A girl doesn’t have to wear a skirt to be modest, there are many pants and shorts out there that are perfectly modest.
    I do agree with you though. A person shouldn’t spend so much time focusing on there out side that they neglect the inside. A girl being modest on the inside is more important than being modest on her exterior. Which leads back to my other thought, what a girl is on the out side reflects what she is on the inside– a lot of times, not always, often times she is still growing in that area.
    Yes, I’m sure one of these post/comments we’ll have to agree to disagree 😉
    I know! Graduation is just around the corner now! See you then!
    Sarah B.

    • Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for your comment! I always love keeping a discussion going on here and I wish more people would comment like you do. 🙂

      The passage in Luke is definitely a good referance to sin. It is a reminder that our influence on others is strong and that we must be careful. I still disagree with you about humans having the capability to CAUSE someone else to sin, but just so you know, I still think it is a great passage (and I’m glad you showed it to me). 🙂

      And by the way, this post is not trying to encourage girls to just wear nothing. I would also rather be on the safe side. In fact, I have my own dressing standards and I like to stick to them. These days, I’m much more comfortable in more “modest” (at least, modest to the mainstream society) clothing. I actually have about four reasons for dressing the way that I dress and modesty is a very important conviction to me.

      However, I just don’t like to “preach” that side of it because I know the side affects of such sermons. Sometimes I feel confined because I let modesty consume me. I feel sinful and awful for one little thing even though I’m far from being “risque” (at least, in my opinion). I get this because of some really awful experiences I’ve had with Christians. I was told and made to feel like an outcast because of several things about my life (some that I couldn’t even change), including my dress (that I could change… but it wasn’t really “bad,” in my opinion). Ever since then I’ve been kind of cynical towards it all. I even went through a period (about 2 years ago now) where I was so angry and hurt that I decided to totally rebel against everything those people taught me. I wore some things that… well, I’m not too proud of now… but it was a learning experience. Anyway, I’ve kind of been on a roller-coaster with this whole modesty thing. 😛 I want to save other girls the trouble because I know that there are others out there who feel the same way. I want girls to know that although modesty is great, they don’t have to beat themselves over the head about it.

      Oh, yes, of course… there is nothing wrong with a guy thinking that a girl is pretty. I guess it’s just that when I over obsess about modesty, I tend to feel ugly. I feel like my body itself is sinful and awful. And it makes me not feel very happy about being the way that God made me. That’s why I don’t like an over emphasis on modesty… personally, I think it objectifies us as much as trying to sell our bodies to guys.

      Yes, that is another true point. We ARE supposed to be different from the world. I think that in regards to modesty we should look at the clothing in the stores and think about what kind of message it sends. If it is a message that you think God would approve of, then there is nothing wrong with wearing it. If it sends a sexual message to the world (as an example) then I would say it would be wrong to wear since we are to “flee from sexual immorality. (1 Corinthians 6:18)

      Well, it’s been great having this discussion with you, Sarah. I really have enjoyed reading your thoughts and sharing mine. Even though we disagree to an extent, it has helped me to look more closely at the scriptures and gain new wisdom. And there is no problem with “agreeing to disagree”!

      See you soon,

      Elizabeth

  8. Great post! However, have you ever thought about clothes being an outward symbol of the gospel and how God covers our sin in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), therefore we need to dress in a way that represents that? I do believe that some people take modesty too far and are legalistic about it. There is no reason we shouldn’t look cute and be a picture of grace, but we need to take heed on what it means to represent Christ and the gospel in every area of our lives and glorifying him in whatever we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). I had my eyes opened to this while reading a book and the lady correlated our shame feeling from nakedness to our shame before God without Christ. Clothes represent what Christ has done to our hearts, so shouldn’t they be full of grace for our brothers around us and an example to the older and younger women that are watching (1 Tim. 4:12)? I think we should guard in every area and way we can for our brothers sake and for the girls around us who are watching. We are ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), and must do everything we can to present ourselves as Christ’s so the world can distinguish us from itself.
    If you think about it, the covering of clothing (like God did with Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:21) clearly represents Christ’s bood that covers our shame and sinful hearts. It’s a beautiful picture that is marred everyday by sin, but we have the chance to shed a little light on the darkness by dressing in a way that is becoming, yet God-glorifying. No, it shouldn’t be a chore, but a delight because we know the picture it represents.
    Just some random girl’s thoughts. 🙂
    Hope this didn’t offend or sound rude! I just desire for every area of our lives to be Christ-centered- even clothing and the craziness that goes along with it!
    ~Fellow modesty seeker and sister,
    RuthAnne

    • Hi RuthAnne,

      Wow. Your comment was so clear and well put! I don’t often compliment people on their comments… but yours really was wonderful. I think YOU should write a blog post on this sometime! 🙂

      You definitely have some great points here along with some awesome scripture references. And I actually agree with you in some ways. I believe that clothes can be an outward symbol and I try to dress in such a way that mine are an outward symbol of Christ and what He has done for me. I also believe that we should glorify God in whatever we do, including our clothing choices. You’re right — not only are men watching, but older and younger women notice our actions, clothing, speech etc. I personally believe that we as women are never too young to be the “older women” he is talking about because we can always be an example to someone younger or newer in the faith than we are. And yes, clothing was originally used to cover the first human sin. If sin hadn’t entered the world, we’d probably still be walking around naked!

      For me though, I have seen modesty become abusive, both in my own life and the lives of others. I was hurt deeply and because of that I can no longer embrace modesty fully. Perhaps this is just a falling on my own part, but through searching the scriptures, praying, and learning the nature of God, I have come to this stance on modesty. I feel like people either put way too much emphasis or no emphasis at all on modesty. Neither one is right in my opinion, but the too much is worse to me because that is where it becomes abusive. And modesty isn’t a dealbreaker or even something that is “black and white” in the bible like other issues. For instance, we know that sex before marriage is wrong because God clearly states that in the Bible… so I wouldn’t write a post saying “Yeah, just do whatever you want.” We also know that our God is the only true god. That is a dealbreaker for the Christian faith so I wouldn’t write a post about there being other ways to heaven. These issues are black and white… not gray like modesty.

      What do I mean about modesty being gray and other issues being black and white? Well, God doesn’t clearly state that modesty is part of the Christian faith. He also doesn’t talk much about (outward) modesty either. Yes, there are some verses and probably more that I have yet to find. But in my experience, it’s the same vereses over and over again. For example, 1 Timothy 2:9 clearly tells that women should dress modestly. However, nowhere in the Bible have I found anything that tells women what they should wear to be modest, that she is going to hell if she is not modest enough, or even that she should be modest for her brother’s sake. So that’s why I’m not comfortable saying that every Christian MUST dress a certain way. I believe in personal modesty (each person’s modesty is up to their own convictions) and (outward and inward) modesty is certainly important to me is a person. I just can’t proclaim it like some people do because although God is clear about it in the Bible, He leaves it (somewhat) up to us to determine how we approach it as Christians.

      And as you can probably tell if you’ve read the other comments, I don’t believe that we as women are responsible for our brother’s sins. Yes, I know that men are attracted to women. And I definitely believe in “helping” them. However, I have yet to find a scripture that says that I am responsible for someone else’s sins. I also think that modesty is a two-sided issue… I have already chosen to respect others with my appearance, but if it’s really going to work, guys are going to have to step up to the plate and choose to control their minds. I know that there are many great, Godly guys who do that, but I’ve also found quite a few who just like to blame it on women. And I don’t think that is Godly or right at all. I’m not saying that you believe this because you never said anything about that, but you did mention helping our brothers in Christ so I just wanted to clarify my belief on that. 🙂

      No, I wasn’t offended at all! You put your opinion very respectfully, which I really appreciated. Thanks so much for commenting, Ruth-Anne. I’ve enjoyed discussing and thinking further about this. 🙂

      God bless,

      Elizabeth

  9. Hello Elizabeth!
    I’ve enjoyed this discussion as well, I’ve never actually done anything like this but it really helps one get a better look at the scriptures! 🙂
    Yes, you have some very good points, and I definitely agree with you.
    If the passage Luke doesn’t mean a warning to you not to cause someone to sin (and we are responsible for that sin), then what does it mean for you? More verses on the subject are in 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 which gives an example (Paul uses food sacrificed to idols, but it’s an example and I believe we must apply it to other things as well) about offending others in Christ. As the chapter goes on, Paul becomes clearer and clearer that we can cause someone to sin, “When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” Or what I might say, “If what I wear causes my brother to sin, I will never wear that again.” I believe it applies both ways. It doesn’t show Christ’s love to abuse our liberty in Christ and make our brother stumble.
    Even though the verse in Timothy is small and only one, it is still very important and God has it in the Bible for a reason, and when God says to be modest, He means it (which I’m sure you know already, I was just pointing out that the verse in Timothy is important). A verse in Proverbs I found pricked something in me too, “Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute…” Proverbs 7:10 (part of it). When I stumbled across this verse it hit me that a person is often judged by their appearance. A girl in revealing clothing will be thought of as a worldly girl after men, but a girl dressed modestly will be thought as a Christian or at least conservative. Which is why God asks us to be different from the world and to dress modestly.
    Another point I thought about (which I’m sure you’ve already figured out in your mind as well 🙂 ) is that we shouldn’t try and make ourselves look attractive to men. I believe if we strive to be noticed by the opposite gender, God isn’t pleased with that, it doesn’t show a ‘gentle and quiet spirit’ or even a ‘woman who fears the Lord’.
    We shouldn’t consider modesty a thing which is to consume us or trap us. I take it as a gift, as a way God wants me to be, and I’m proud to be different. I get many odd looks, or sarcastic comments, but it only makes me want to dress modestly more. Praying about keeping myself modest is also something that helps me, the more I pray about it, the more it comes easier to me. When I first started being ‘modest’ (at around 13, 14, before that, I wore things, like what you said, I’m not to proud of now!) I went to the extreme of things, I never wore pants (ever, ever) and I easily judged those who did. Now, though, God has taught me not to go the extreme of the spectrum, not to judge, and that it’s okay to wear other things besides skirts and collared shirts. I still am modest, and different from the world, but God has helped me not to feel confined in modesty, but for it to come easily to me. Now, I understand the everyone has different levels of modesty, but (I hope I don’t offend you, but I am a rather opinionated person) cleavage is something which I think no woman should show, as it is a worldly kind of attractiveness.
    And please don’t get me wrong through all this, I definitely think inward modesty is WAY more important that outward, but once the person/girl has inward modesty to where the Bible teaches it, she should focus some attention on being modest outwardly too. But, I know a few girls who aren’t all that modest, yet they are serving God so well and striving for Him. My cousin, for instance (which I think I mentioned before) is a huge encouragement to me in the faith, her minister to others is fantastic, her steadfastness in what she believes and her un-fearing way of spreading the gospel is more than I could ever do. Modesty is something that she just doesn’t think about right now, but I’m sure God will lead her there eventually when she is ready for it. I don’t judge her for her clothing because of how Godly she is in other ways–inwardly, I should say 🙂
    Anyways, what a rant 😛 Hope you’re still awake, and I hope I didn’t offend you in any way. I’m actually really enjoying writing back and forth, you’ve made me Bible search and learn new things more than I have in a long time! 🙂
    See you in a few weeks,
    Sarah Bomske

    • Hi again Sarah, 🙂

      Well, I guess my take on Luke 17 is just completely different. When I look at it, I don’t see Jesus telling us that we cause our neighbour to sinn. Rather, it is a warning of the influence that we have on others and that we must be careful for their sake. Although you could interpret it to say that Jesus says you shouldn’t cause someone to sin, I don’t see that written clearly in the verses. Yes, there is the 1 Corinthians verse. 🙂 And I definitely get what you’re saying. We should be very careful about the influence we have on others and I do have regrets as to how I have portrayed myself to others (not just in modesty) because of what it might give them the “liberty” to do. However, I just can’t get how a person can actually be held responsible for another’s sin.

      One thing that bugs me about this is that it is only held to modesty. Girls are told that they are responsible for their brother’s sin through what they wear. However, there are many other sins besides immodesty! This example is extreme, but what if a person was convicted of murder? But when he/she was tried, they told the judge, “So-and-so made me do it. It’s their fault.” So because of this testimony the murdurer was sent free and the person who “caused” him to murder was put in jail. Now, that would be ridiculous! We would never do that. Of course, the murdurer could have an accomplice who deserves punishment, but the fact still remains that the murdurer directly caused the person to die. Therefore, it is HIS sin, first and foremost. Whatever sin the accomplice brought in was THEIR sin and should not replace the other’s folly.

      Another thing that bothers me is that this totally blames women! You may say that it is abusive towards our Christian liberty in Christ to use it to wear whatever we want. I agree. However, it is also abusive and unloving to put all of the blame on women for a man’s problem. In this mindset, men are not accountable for their own sins. Romans 2:6 says “God will give to each person according to what he has done.” It seems like this is seen as true in every aspect except in modesty. How does that make sense? We are told in Ephesians 5 to “have not even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity.” As a girl, I direct this (in part) to what I put on my body. However, a man who puts all the blame on women is not working towards the goal of “not even a hint.” A man who blames a girl for his sexual sin is just feeding his sexual sin. He releasing himself and all men to think wrong thoughts by putting the blame on women and making them the only ones with sexual sin. That is entirely wrong though! We are all sinful and all capable of sexual sin. Perhaps our genders allow us to do that in different ways, but all sin is sin in God’s sight. And really, I don’t think that God would consider dressing immodestly worse than lust. Basically, my point is that most Christian guys aren’t doing their part. I’m happy to do my part, but they need to do theirs as well otherwise it isn’t going to work.

      I agree with you on modesty. I actually really like it myself because it gives me dignity and worth. I just don’t like the blame game that many Christians are playing with it. Also, modesty is very subjective. What you and I wear would be completely immodest to a (Conservative) Muslim man, for instance. So, if we go out with our heads uncovered and a Muslim man sees us, we will be causing him to stumble. How do we deal with this? Even our Christian brother my have an issue with something we are wearing. Have you ever seen the modesty survey by the Rebelution? (http://www.therebelution.com/modestysurvey/) Guys give their opinions on certain articles of clothing. Many guys voted that bikinis, low cut tops, and short shorts caused them to stumble. We probably could have guessed they’d vote for those on our own, right? But some guys said that things like shrugs or putting on lip gloss or wearing a zip up hoodie made them stumble. How random is that? I’m not trying to make fun of them, but the point is that different men will find different things sensual. You really can’t please everyone with this modesty issue. I try to dress modestly, but only to my personal standards. I have long given up on trying to please everyone else because at least one person is going to think I’m immodest.

      Okay, that’s all for now. 🙂 Sorry, I know this is a lot and I probably spoke pretty harshly. I don’t mean this to be offensive in any way — it’s just what I believe and as always you are welcome to state back what you believe. Yes, this has been interesting! It’s been great because I have also searched my scriptures more carefully.

      See you soon!

      Elizabeth

  10. Hi Elizabeth!!!
    Nope, not harshly, you’re just starting to sound like me 😉
    Yes, I certainly believe that a guy is responsible for his own sin if he lusts. I just also believe that when a woman wears something that causes a guy to lust, it is also her fault–as well as his, they are both in sin. I got this belief from the passage in Luke and 1 Corinthians.
    I talked with my brother the other day, and he said (and I totally agree) that if I guy thinks wrong thoughts when he sees a girls arm, something is wrong with the guy, same with leg bellow the knee, collar bone and so forth. But if I guy sees thighs or cleavage, that’s something different.
    Anyways, I believe are beginning to go in circles here, so we should now ‘agree to disagree’ 😉
    See you soon, 🙂
    Sarah Bomske

    • Hi Sarah,

      Ok, good! It can be hard to “moderate” one’s own comments at times. 😉

      Well, you’re definitely allowed to have your own opinion and I’m not here to stop you! 🙂 It would be boring if everyone agreed on everything anyway. 😉

      Yes, that is totally unreasonable to think wrong thoughts about arms, calves, collarbones etc. Your brother is right. Although I can see how cleavage and thighs would be a temptation, I still don’t like to blame it on the woman. But you already know that. 😉 I guess I’m “half agreeing” with you and your brother. But like I said before… that’s ok! We’re all entitled to our own opinion.

      Yes, let’s ‘agree to disagree.’ A lot of my friends and I have done that. It’s really the only thing to do in life!

      It was great meeting you!
      Elizabeth

  11. Elizabeth, I am a guy, and even this blog has touched my soul. You see, for many years, I too have been affected by this doctrine of modesty – negatively, I might add. For years, I was ashamed of going to be beach because I would be seeing the “half-naked whores” on the beach, and it really bothered me. There were times where I’ve even tried to end my own life because of these teachings. God knows our hearts, our souls and our bodies. Our sexuality is not a bad thing, neither are our bodies. Our relationship with God is not affected by what we wear or don’t wear, God still loves us. The female body is not the problem with man’s lust, man’s heart is the problem, and it’s because of man’s sinful heart that we lust. Wanting to see a woman’s body is not lust, it’s a desire given by God. Liking the form of a woman’s body is not sinful, it’s something that God gave us also.

    It saddens me that there’s so many women out their who’ve been affected negatively by the modesty teachings http://darcysheartstirrings.blogspot.com/2011/08/i-was-you-once.html. This poor woman is a sad example of how horrible the feeling is.

    • Thank you for sharing a bit of your story, Daniel. I’m glad that this post touched you — it was a nice surprise to find a comment on this post I wrote so long ago. 🙂

      Your words here are so true and wise: “The female body is not the problem with man’s lust, man’s heart is the problem, and it’s because of man’s sinful heart that we lust. Wanting to see a woman’s body is not lust, it’s a desire given by God. Liking the form of a woman’s body is not sinful, it’s something that God gave us also.” Thank you…

      I’m very sorry to hear about your past situation. I hope and pray that you will continue to find your healing in Jesus. Only He can truly take away our wounds. God bless you.

      • Thank you, Elizabeth (sorry for my late reply). It’s just been so hard the past years. I would cry myself to sleep, as silently as possible. I would try to tell myself that it was all lies, but I couldn’t convince myself. There was nothing I could do. No matter what I did, I would always be a “pervert” and “carnal-minded.” I became so angry and vindictive towards my old Bible-study group who supported these teachings, and for what? I was just 19 at the time, and it felt like my life was in shambles. I felt awful about my sexuality, because no place was safe for me to look because of all of the “lewd women” and I just couldn’t take it anymore, and that’s why I tried to take my own life those times, I was going to go to Hell anyway, so why bother trying?

        But… he was the one that stopped me. It was at my darkest moment, that he stopped me from taking my own life. “My yolk is easy” he says. It’s a long road to try and have the wounds heald, but I know Jesus will heal them. As of now, I am free to enjoy women and love them. I would still love a girl “modest” or “immodest” or anything.

        I’m sorry if this comment is a bit long, I just want to explain what’s happend. I’m getting a little misty-eyed typing this comment. I know that God is both love and mercy, yes, he is just and yes, he does demand holiness, but all that matters is his mercy to me, because he loved me, even though I couldn’t meet the demands of religion.

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